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By Allison Jones, Generations Coordinator at QMUNITY, BC's Queer Resource Centre 

Intro to homophobia

At the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse workshop in March, I was encouraged to learn of the resources and knowledge of professionals who are working on prevention. I was also surprised not to hear more stories of clients and family members who had actually watched as loved ones became the victims of elder abuse in some way. I work with LGBTQ seniors in Vancouver and often hear of their experiences with homophobia in health care and in their daily lives. When seniors who are LGBTQ are mistreated or taken advantage of because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it is considered elder abuse.



Donna's story

Donna is a trans* identified woman who is a friend of the Generations program. She shared her story in our recently published discussion paper entitled Aging Out. With her permission, I share her story to give an example of abuse in her experience with her health care. Donna, who is a 70 year old transgender woman and who did not come out until age 55, has had a challenging relationship with the healthcare system. As a result she is hesitant to come out to health care providers. Even more so, she is deeply afraid of needing to re-closet to stay safe in care. Although her recent experiences with health care provision have been positive and inclusive, she says that the most challenging experience she has had with a healthcare professional happened six years ago following a GP who said to her that “AIDS is God’s way of punishing gay people”. When she looked for another GP, she was sent to a specialist and during the appointment she asked for an HIV test. The doctor immediately asked her if she was gay. He then stood 6 inches from her face and asked, “What kind of weird sexual behaviour have you been participating in?". Donna describes how after this exchange he told her to get down on the table and submit to a rectal exam. She felt a great deal of shame after the appointment and didn’t tell anyone until years later.

Education for prevention

This is a clear representation of abuse by a health care provider. Reporting the incident can be a re-traumatization. Donna’s story helped me understand the importance of having clear, easy to understand steps for reporting LGBTQ elder abuse. Our discussion about prevention of homophobia in seniors care at the CNPEA event in Toronto reminded me that many lawyers, health care providers and support workers do not understand the degree of discrimination and homophobia some LGBTQ seniors face. There is a need for relevant resources that are accessible on the CNPEA hub to prevent homophobia against elders and to educate affiliates of the CNPEA. As an example of LGBTQ resources available for seniors, a compilation for LGBT End of Life can be found at www.sfu.ca/lgbteol

 

photo 2About the author
Allison Jones is the Generations Coordinator at QMUNITY, BC’s Queer Resource Centre. Working with lesbian, gay, bi and trans seniors is satisfying because seniors are comfortable with who they are, even if society has not always accepted them. Generations delivers an exciting and innovative approach to age specific service delivery, education and community development for older adults.

 


For more information please contact Allison at  or 604-684-8449 
http://www.qmunity.ca/older-adults/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Qmunity
Twitter: https://twitter.com/qmunity




 

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